Election forecaster Sabato’s Crystal Ball shifted the Virginia governor’s race from the “Leans Democratic” column to the “Leans Republican” column the day before voters head to the polls.
Miles Coleman and Kyle Kondik, the site’s editors, said Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin’s momentum going into the election was what ultimately tipped their decision, even though both he and former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe each had their own respective advantages.
“Youngkin has the enthusiasm, the environment, the history, and perhaps even the issues (given his focus on education and its increasing salience in polling),” they wrote. “McAuliffe has the state’s Democratic lean in his favor.”
Like previous elections, Crystal Ball moves races out of the “Toss-up” column before the election, but its decision to move it from “Leans Democratic” underscores not only how close the race is, but how Youngkin has erased McAuliffe’s lead in a state that President Joe Biden won by 10 points just a year ago.
The duo also commented on McAuliffe’s efforts to tie Youngkin to former President Donald Trump, who twice lost the state and remains deeply unpopular among the Democratic base.
“Our sense is that the race has been moving toward Youngkin, in large part because of the political environment,” they wrote. “McAuliffe’s Trump-centric campaign also just doesn’t seem as potent in a non-federal race with the former president no longer in the White House.”
Unlike McAuliffe, Youngkin has increasingly focused on education as his driving issue, rallying against issues like Critical Race Theory in hopes of energizing parents who have expressed frustration at schools and local elected officials.
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